Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Saying Adios Amigo to Bob Dornan A Jackson Hole Original and Real Western Man

(PLEASE NOTE, A PIECE OF MY KEYBOARD WENT OUT LAST WEEKEND, MAKING IT ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO POST. The part has been ordered and should be in and fixed by next week. Till then,  posting will be light. Thanks for coming by.)

 I WAS CRAZY ABOUT BOB DORNAN OVER THE PAST 30 YEARS I KNEW HIM IN JACKSON HOLE, AND HE WAS FOND OF ME TOO. Every person who knew him had tales to tell. This summer when I was out in Moose having lunch at Dornan's, I learned Bob was gravely ill with only hours to weeks to live. I moped around for days afterwards. Bob died last week after a very full life and very happy marriage, and I want to post what came out today in the Jackson Hole News and Guide: 

  By Johanna Love

One day several decades ago Sen. Alan Simpson came upon his childhood pal Bob Dornan outside of Dornan’s Wine Shoppe in Moose. Dornan was stomping on cardboard boxes, flattening them to recycle. Dumbfounded at the sight, Simpson said, “What the hell are you doing?”

 As always, Dornan didn’t mince words. “He said, ‘You just help me, you big bastard,’” Simpson recalled. “‘You got a size 16, just get in here and help.’”

 Recycling was important to Dornan, working in the shadow of the Tetons at Dornan’s, his family’s cluster of businesses in Moose: a restaurant, grocery, gift shop, sports shop, bar, wine shop and outfitting operation.

On Sept. 2 Dornan, the public face of Dornan’s, died at home. He was 86. His friends remember him as smart, genuine and funny, with a wealth of knowledge about many subjects, especially wine.

He was “interested and interesting,” friend and former bar manager Amy Brennan McCarthy said. “You could sit over lunch and talk about geology, about the economy,” McCarthy said. “Of course you could talk about the wine.

He was an absolute gem of a human being with an open heart and an open mind.” Simpson, famous for his own gift of gab, said Dornan was a born conversationalist, which came in handy for the millions of people who flowed through Dornan’s. “He had a way of communicating with people,” Simpson said, “from the janitor to the popes and the potentates. He had a heart as big as his body.”

When Mary Howley Ryan began working for Dornan in the Spur Bar in 1992, she was surprised by his willingness to chat. She was impressed that he didn’t talk down to a young 20-something woman, that he cared about what she had to say and engaged her in discussions. “You didn’t just work for Bob,” she said, “he kind of adopted you. It was like a family.”

 Educated as an engineer, Dornan was a lifelong learner. He first picked up the wine bug in the 1960s, touring California vineyards with his father, Jack. For the past 30 years Dornan’s Wine Shoppe manager Dennis Johnson was an attentive pupil, soaking up Dornan’s wisdom as they tasted various varietals. “He taught me almost everything I know about wine,” Johnson said. “He just believed in a good glass of wine every day, or a good bottle.” A favorite grape was Zinfandel. “He said if he could only drink one wine for the rest of his life, it would be zinfandel,” Johnson said.

Read the whole piece.

Let it suffice to say,  I and hundreds of others will greatly miss  this rough yet good-hearted man. But no one will miss Bob like Dennis Johnson, my friend and fellow fly fisher who managed Dornan's Wine Shoppe for Bob decades.

Adios amigo.

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